The chief engineer contacts the 24-hour hotline of seal manufacturer SKF. With the professional support of the service engineers, as well as photos and discussions, the ship’s crew focuses on the optimum solution based on the situation—and this will typically last until the ship’s next scheduled docking. However, if this does not work, there is another option: “We have technicians all around the world and can carry out repairs even in exotic locations,” says Christian Richter, Sales and Key Account Manager for shaft components at SKF.
Failure of small parts can be costly
If a ship does have to dock, then there are specialists on hand to carry out the work: “Every two years, all service technicians have to complete our current training program and be recertified,” says Richter. Although the sterntube seal is a relatively small part, it still needs to be safe and reliable. Cruise ships, for example, are fully booked for five years. A breakdown due to the failure of a small component can quickly lead to costs in the hundreds of thousands. This is why technician need to work with extreme precision and care—during routine ship maintenance in the dry docks, for instance. When a seal is replaced, every step needs to be performed exactly right; mistakes commonly go unnoticed until the ship is in the water. And this results in high costs.
This is the reason technicians have to be trained according to the highest standards and need to know the products inside out. “In my opinion, this is an absolute must when you work in an environment where there is no room for errors,” states Richter. The ship’s history should be on hand at all times, and technicians require thorough knowledge of the maintenance cycles and technical condition. Companies such as SKF deliver these services along with their products. For Richter, this is a key characteristic of the marine industry today: “After they’ve made their purchase, customers need the reassuring feeling that they can continue to rely on the manufacturer.” This is true whether you are sailing the English Channel or the South Pacific.
SKF technical service provides round-the-clock support for when a ship encounters a problem on the high seas. Trained and certified technicians are on hand around the globe to quickly and reliably repair vessels and minimize costly downtime.